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Artificial Bases Added to DNA

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the totally-faked-you-out-man dept.

Biotech 362

holy_calamity writes "Researchers have successfully added two 'unnatural' DNA letters to the code of life. They created two artificial base pairs that are treated as normal by an enzyme that replicates and fixes DNA inside cells. This raises the prospect of engineering life forms with genetic code not possible within nature, allowing new kinds of genetic engineering."

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362 comments

Who the Mother Fuck? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22234802)

Who the mother fuck took my motherfucking lighter?

I, for one... (5, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234830)

All your artificial base are belong to these researchers.

MOD PARENT FUNNY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235472)

All right, it's not that funny but come on, as soon as you read the headline you know somebody was going to say it. It's not "+5 funny" but it's certainly not "-1 offtopic".

Re:I, for one... (1)

elmarkitse (816597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235516)

Literally tho, since I'm sure these base are patented out the wazoo, they literally all do belong to the researchers...

On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234882)

Why is it that every single article that references any scientific development in the fields of genetics or molecular biology gets the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag on Slashdot? What does this say about our society, since Slashdot members tend to represent the more educated and successful members to begin with? Have we really become such fat lazy luddites that we will reject anything we do not understand, on the basis of an infinitesmally-small risk to our (relatively) decadent and luxurious life?

Do we really only perceive biologists as madmen who want to do evil experients for the heck of it? I've seen this trend spiral out of control, and frankly, I am ASHAMED.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234890)

I think it's meant to be more an amusing, tongue-in-cheek observation than anything else.

Or, in other words--lighten up, man. Not everything's serious.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234934)

Or, in other words--lighten up, man. Not everything's serious.

I'm seriously annoyed about the tags. I've been a frequent Slashdot contributer for 10 years and for some fucking reason not only can I not moderate, I cannot add tags. Why the fuck not? I'm good enough to continuously post comments that the other moderators feel are worth of +5 Foo but the "editors" don't feel I'm worthy of bestowing that or tags for others to see?

Personally, I find the majority of tags being used are pointless (like the one referenced above). They need to stop fucking around with the ability to moderate and tag content or do away with it all together -- especially for those that really deserve it.

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235064)

This is in no way off-topic. Yet another attempt by the moderators to quell the opinions shared by many.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Insightful)

Lord_Frederick (642312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235112)

If every article about scientific development gets tagged with "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" then anyone can quickly find those articles by searching for that tag. Isn't that the point of the tags? I think this particular tag does a pretty good job of classifying the category of stories that sound like the beginning of a sci-fi thriller.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235264)

This is specifically why I limit myself to one view a day of Slashdot and do not log in to comment. What's the point?

I used to get mod points once every month or two. I haven't had mod points in about two years. I metamod regularly, and I comment fairly regularly. I can't tag anything, and I've had two story submissions recently posted. Apparently I'm good enough to deliver news to the blog aggregater and banner ad whores (oh, and the banner ads in the new comment system blow), but I'm not good enough to moderate or tag stories.

Who's cock do I have to suck around here to get Slashdot back the way it was two years ago? You know, when it didn't suck so hard?

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235342)

Who's cock do I have to suck around here to get Slashdot back the way it was two years ago? You know, when it didn't suck so hard?
See, I think you're going about this problem the wrong way. Your solution (sucking random cocks) would logically just add to the general sucking force. May I suggest that you try blowing instead?

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235302)

Personally, I find the majority of tags being used are pointless ...

If it helps, you may want to consider doing what I do and regard the tags as you would the graffiti on the walls of a bathroom stall: similarly pointless, irrelevent, badly written, but occasionally informative or even entertaining if you have nothing better to do.

Come to think of it, you may want to extend that approach to the comments, as well. ;-)

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

volsung (378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235318)

Tags are definitely the new Slashdot graffiti.

I used to think that maybe frequency of submission got a tag promoted to the front page. Given the very improbable tags that sometimes appear, there must be some mechanism which allows a tag to appear even if only one user types it. Maybe, as you suggest, the system gives a random subset of users "front page tagging power" periodically. If that's the case, then I would imagine that switching to a frequency-based display of tags would clean up the front page. "Meme tags" like "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" would still be there, but the random smart-assing would be reduced.

You visit too often... (0, Offtopic)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235512)

It's probably because you're in the "too active" segment of the Slashdot population. Do most of your browsing while logged out and let many of your comments stay anon and after a long enough "retirement" you'll probably slip into the mod pool like I eventually did.

Of course, being as active as you are, I don't know how long that'll take...

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234924)

It means that we are in a position to recognize that things COULD go wrong and that we hope the people doing the research take these possibilities seriously.

Or maybe it's just this week's /. tag-of-the-week. Take your pick.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (3, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235242)

let's see... so FUD actually doesn't stand with "got the facts wrong" or "someone i disagree with vehemently". It stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. All three are perfectly incorporated in the phrase "what could possibly go wrong" when it is used as a knee jerk reaction to research.

Rational FUD vs. irrational FUD (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235550)

There is a place for fear, uncertainty, and doubt when it comes to new science and new technology. Let me rephrase that: There is a place for respect for and investigation of the unknown when it comes to new science and new technology.

Take nanotechnology for example. There is no place for sky-is-falling panic over "new asbestosis" and other possibilities, but researchers seriously should look into things like this to put a real, hard, risk assessment on these possibilities. Let's suppose that by 2015 there will be X amount of this or that nanotech in use. What can we predict about the rate of lung disease and how much, if any, of this will be attributable to nanotech? Is this amount acceptable? If not, what if anything can or should be done to reduce the risk?

Likewise, people doing research in genetic engineering, particularly with totally novel life forms, need to ask themselves "what could possibly go wrong," "what is the likelihood of that happening," "how can the risk be reduced or mitigated," and "should we go to the effort to reduce or mitigate the risk." In many cases, the risk is low, the consequences are minor, and/or the cost of mitigation or prevention is high and the logical choice is to accept the new technology and live with the acceptable risks.

In other cases, the risk is high, the consequences are dire, and/or the cost of mitigation or prevention is low and it makes sense to prevent or mitigate the risks.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (3, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234932)

It's.. It's also possible that maybe it's just a joke in reference to all the related Sci-Fi movies that feature similar sets of scientific progress that go horribly wrong for the sake of ticket sales.

The real question is when did the slashdot audience turn to such un-comical jackasses who feel the need to take everything so seriously? I get it, you're well off, you like science, you like to stay on slashdot because in your opinion it represents the more "successful" members of society. But then, maybe you're just an arrogant prick, and maybe we're just having fun.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235474)

The real question is when did the slashdot audience turn to such un-comical jackasses who feel the need to take everything so seriously?
No, the real question is "when did the slashdot audience turn to such un-comical jackasses who feel the need to repeat the same wheezing Fark cliche over and over?".

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (5, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234984)

Do we really only perceive biologists as madmen who want to do evil experients [sic] for the heck of it?
No. But, even though I think that it's enormously cool what these folks did, the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag seems appropriate here. While reading TFA, I couldn't help but think: "Scientists have created an unnatural but successfully replicating new genetic code? Did we just re-invent cancer?" Followed soon after by: "Cool!"

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235198)

In other words, you are buying into to all the anti-science propaganda.

And, unfortunately, probably read/watch a lot of science fiction. Am I the only person who has noticed that in most science fiction, scientists are often the cause of the disaster, and sometimes they are not the cure, but rather some random person?

More and more, I see SF as putting out the message "scientists as a group are stupid, shortsighted, and dangerous, only the lone researcher who disagrees with the group knows what is actually going on, and the pitchfork/torch wielding crowd have the right idea on how to fix things."

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235276)

If you take guidance from fiction you would be the stupid, short-sighted, and dangerous one.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235290)

Your faith in Science is endearing, if a little naive. Perhaps you
should read some Feyarabend (and no, it's not science-fiction).

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235484)

Chances are you are an asshole and don't know it.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

thechao (466986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235470)

They invented new base pairs, not "new replicating genetic code." Also, even if they *did* invent a "new replicating genetic code" calling it cancer is preposterous: if I managed to cross a radish and a tulip (beautiful -and- tasty!), this is a "new replicating genetic code" but, and I can't stress this enough, it is not cancer.

Hm. I just thought of an even better way to say this, which happens to tie in non-recreational sex, but then the believability quotient would fall, seeing as how this is Slashdot, and all.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235524)

I couldn't help but think: "Scientists have created an unnatural but successfully replicating new genetic code? Did we just re-invent cancer?" Followed soon after by: "Cool!"

Mine was more "Cool!", followed by "Oh, shit, we're all going to die."

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235020)

Do we really only perceive biologists as madmen who want to do evil experiments for the heck of it? I've seen this trend spiral out of control, and frankly, I am ASHAMED.

Well, as other posters have noted, the tag is being used more for its humor value than anything else. However, western civilization has long had an ambivalent relationship with science. If you go back as far as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, you can see the general theme of scientists learning things that 'man was never meant to know', and of course the hubris that comes from it.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235022)

I always thought it highlighted the fact that we, as living organisms, are subject to the effects of these techniques and that we should exercise caution and discretion in applying them to human biology.

There's also an unprecedented level of malicious potential if such developments fall into the wrong hands.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235190)

> There's also an unprecedented level of malicious potential if such developments fall into the wrong hands.

such as...?

WHAT is it that could possibly go wrong?

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235040)

Why is it that every single article that references any scientific development in the fields of genetics or molecular biology gets the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag on Slashdot?

Because here on /. we know for sure that manipulating firmware is generally bad idea?

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235050)


Slashdot members tend to represent the more educated and successful members to begin with

Which ones have you been talking to? I'd like to know. It can't be the ones who seem to have scripts to mod everything as flamebait or troll...

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235100)

Have we really become such fat lazy luddites that we will reject anything we do not understand, on the basis of an infinitesmally-small risk to our (relatively) decadent and luxurious life?

That's a great plan! What could possibly go wrong?

(Ow! Ow! Ow! I'm just kidding! Ow!)

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

dave55699 (1215870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235138)

since Slashdot members tend to represent the more educated and successful members to begin with?
Not in terms of procreation, no.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235154)

Because Slashdot is mostly armchair pseudo-scientists who apply sarcasm and pessimism to make themselves seem intelligent. It's no different from the sports fan who criticizes the coaches and players based on their own experience playing high-school football.

Mod parent "winnar" (1)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235514)

Go through ANY Slashdot discussion and you'll see the highest percentage of posts with +4 and +5 moderation are those that do exactly what you say, that is, display a pessimistic/sarcastic attitude, often in relation to a seemingly trivial fault.

The arrogance necessary to place yourself in a position where something is seemingly obvious to you, but not to professionals who have devoted their lives to the study of the subject, amazes me.

Ultimately, it's much easier to find fault for small minds. The "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag is a sign that says "I have a small mind" as loudly as if you had a bullhorn.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (2, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235192)

Do we really only perceive biologists as madmen who want to do evil experiments for the heck of it?

My sister's a microbiologist and I like to say that, Yes, they are all madmen (and women) that want to do evil experiments. (please don't tell her I said that, puhleaze!)

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235262)

Trying doing the same thing to your network admin who maintains the corporate IT network; "Hey, I've found this really neat improvement to the performance of your network - if you just change these bytes in the boot images for the routers, performance is doubled. I don't know what they do, but it seems to speed things up."

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235294)

since Slashdot members tend to represent the more educated and successful members to begin with?
You must be new here.

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235348)

Perhaps the "Killer Bee", pesticide spraying on communities, handling uranium, injecting plutonium, etc...

have caused some to feel that scientists rush into new discoveries and are not being completely honest when they proclaim them "Perfectly safe!" Plus the continuing trend to announce huge world-changing discoveries with the nonchalant expectation that it'll soon be packaged and sold real soon. It seems the rush for profit and fame have crippled the scientific QA department.

I think the tag is a bit overused as well though.

In a word ... Yes (4, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235450)

Biologists aren't evil per say, but they will do almost anything for a grant;) Also keep in mind Risks can only be know with a large sample base. We don't know what the effect any drug is going to be on humans until we test it on statistically large enough groups. The same applies with these type of experiments. The tag is, for me just a reminder that we need to make sure that the proper ethical guidelines are followed and enough experimentation has been done to ensure that we have not invented a new courage for humans or organisms that we care about.

To put it in terms more slashdotters will understand: you don't add new code to a production system with out figuring out ahead of time what could possibly go wrong.

whatcouldpossiblygowrong is the PERFECT tag (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235492)

Why is it that every single article that references any scientific development in the fields of genetics or molecular biology gets the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag on Slashdot?


Are you nuts? Do you get even a tenth of the ramifications of this? I'm all for progress and research and knowledge, but I just saw the headline, and immediately thought, "if there was EVER an article that deserved the 'whatcouldpossiblygowrong' tag, this is it."

Re:On the topic of "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235518)

Why is it that every single article that references any scientific development in the fields of genetics or molecular biology gets the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag on Slashdot? What does this say about our society, since Slashdot members tend to represent the more educated and successful members to begin with? Have we really become such fat lazy luddites that we will reject anything we do not understand, on the basis of an infinitesmally-small risk to our (relatively) decadent and luxurious life?

The thing about biological systems is that they're inherently self-replicating in the way that just about everything else isn't. This means that even benign screw-ups can have surprising and long-reaching consequences. Think about kudzu in the Southern U.S., starlings in North America, Dutch-elm disease in the eastern U.S., rabbits in Australia, and rats on Easter Island. All of these introductions of exotic species wrought enormous destruction and in the case of dutch-elm disease took the American Elm from being the dominant species in eastern U.S. forests to being virtually extinct. Genetic engineering is about creating new exotic species that we can use to do neato things. Now, it's true that most species and ecosystems are darn robust and can handle a wide variety of new threats, but if you're trying to think of a way that we as a species can kill ourselves off, then creating a new organism that proves to be harmful in some unexpected way and well suited to compete in the environment is a pretty good bet.

What could possibly go wrong, indeed. (3, Insightful)

contraba55 (1217056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234906)

We don't even fully understand the genome, and we're going to complicate it further.

Re:What could possibly go wrong, indeed. (1)

unchiujar (1030510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234994)

"Yes, naughty humans, they don't really even understand how my world works and are arrogant enough to build machines to try to exploit the laws of physics... The nerve... " - God

About time! (1)

BZWingZero (1119881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234926)

Its much easier to spell things when you have more letters than just AGTC. However, for now we just have to guess what the new ones are as the article doesn't say.

Re:About time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235496)

Its much easier to spell things when you have more letters than just AGTC.
We already do. [wikipedia.org] Other letters are assigned to mean combinations of the others.

Re:About time! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235504)

Its much easier to spell things when you have more letters than just AGTC. However, for now we just have to guess what the new ones are as the article doesn't say.
Pat, I'd like to engineer a vowel.

whatcouldpossiblygowrong (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234928)

For once, that tag seems appropriate.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235126)

Not according to the whiny bitches at the top of this discussion.

Re:whatcouldpossiblygowrong (2, Insightful)

mlush (620447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235196)

For once, that tag seems appropriate.

Yes what could possibly go wrong? I'm really wracking my brains and I'm having a job

Since these Bases are not synthesized in the wild there is no chance of the altered DNA getting propagated in somethings genome and since there (presumably) not recognized by tRNA [wikipedia.org] they can't affect translation

Artificial bases would have what effect? (3, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234946)

We know what happens with the 'natural' bases--they indicate which amino acids are selected to produce which proteins.

I'm curious as to whether this will result in new kinds of proteins, or whether new amino acids will be required to be built, or what other effects might crop up.

It's interesting, don't get me wrong--but how -practical- is it?

I love optimism (4, Insightful)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234950)

So they manage to build a pair of molecules that can be sucessfully copied when put in a DNA helix, that's something worth publishing in a biochemistery journal, but I don't see how those new molecules could be interpreted by the cell to build new man-designed proteins. Wouldn't it be easier to use man-designed regular DNA sequences that the cell know how to interpret?

Re:I love optimism (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235162)

Right now it doesn't help create new proteins because such new molecules would probably code for new amino acids, that may have to be artificially synthesized and injected into the cell.

Re:I love optimism (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235234)

Why would they have to code for new amino acids? Wouldn't it be just as likely that they'd provide alternate codings for the amino acids already present? Or that they'd be just ignored? Or that they'd stop protein synthesis when encountered? If they reliably coded as errors, it might be convenient to stop expression of proteins that are detrimental, or to stop reproduction in viruses or the like.

A bigger story from ~10 years ago (2, Informative)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235358)

You're right. The intention here is not to create new proteins, but to tag DNA and possibly create new DNA nanostructures. At the end of the day, mRNAs that are translated to proteins still will only have access to the same set of tRNAs, and therefore, the same 20 amino-acids.

The article can be found here [acs.org]. [PDF download requires a subscription]

A more interesting discovery (in my opinion) -- from the Scripps Institute -- was made about ~10-15 years ago (IIRC) by Pete Schultz's [scripps.edu] group. They modified tRNAs so that specific codons (DNA/RNA triplets) could incorporate chemically-modified amino-acids into a protein. Some of this has led to interesting work on protein tagging, functional studies as well as the study of molecular evolution. All this is done with in vitro translation, as far as I know.

Furries (2, Funny)

kidsizedcoffin (1197209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234972)

Great, we're one step closer to furries, someone call Lowtax.

Re:Furries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235248)

More importantly, we will soon be able to make co-workers who are also cow-orkers.

engineer tougher DNA (4, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234990)

This could be really useful in the long-term: if we could substitute replacement codons that work with most of our existing DNA, it's one step to building really tough DNA. Right now, there are a lot of damage mechanisms like adjacent thymines linking [wikipedia.org] resulting from exposure to chemicals or shortwave radiation, and replacement codons engineered to not be suseptible to these could make, say, protracted exposure to radiation outside the Earth's protective atmosphere more viable. Of course, then we'd have to engineer a whole set of enzymes to synthesize those new codons, which is an extremely hard project, but finding things that work as replacement base pairs, now, gives us time to study how they might fail and figure out what the best candidates are.

Re:engineer tougher DNA (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235364)

Could this be used to build immunity to viruses? Imagine sequences are inserted into the places on DNA where viruses normally bind. If those sequences are no-ops, or duplicate the function of the sequences they replace, the organism would still be viable, but the viruses would have a hard time replicating.

Genetic engineering WILL get scary (3, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22234992)

Even if its banned in the US, *other* countries will eventually start experimenting and create a super-race that works 80-hour-weeks without fatigue. Then other countries are going to have to follow to compete, or be left in the dust.

Re:Genetic engineering WILL get scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235464)

.....and, they work for 1/10th of the price....oh wait, they're called "illegal immigrants".

I suspect there's a problem.. (1)

foxalopex (522681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235002)

Interesting. I'm no biologist but I suspect that the reason why these pairs don't exist naturally is that there's probably some sort of issue in the design that causes the living system to die. Evolution tends to favour things that work well and tends to eliminate things that don't

Nature? (2, Insightful)

flynt (248848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235008)

This is only 'not possible within nature' if you make some weird divide when defining nature between humans and everything else in the world. I realize that in the past this was a common thing to do, especially in many religions. But can someone explain what is 'not natural' about humans? Why are the structures we build in cities any 'less natural' than a bird building a nest?

Re:Nature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235110)

Bird nests do not spontaneously arise in nature either. They are also fabricated objects.

I for one... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235054)

- am sick and tired of that joke.

Re:I for one... (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235332)

well well then, good news, i just read a slashdot article that said soon we'll be able alter your genetic code so you will be less receptive to any new incoming overlords.

Re:I for one... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235500)

In Soviet Russia, that joke is sick and tired of you!

that sounds like how my coworker debugs software! (1)

dave55699 (1215870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235062)

From TFA:

"We probably made 15 modifications," says Romesberg, "and 14 made it worse." Sticking a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms onto the side of dSICS, changing it to d5SICS, finally solved the problem.
Feeling clueless, eh?

Re:that sounds like how my coworker debugs softwar (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235296)

WD40 was preceeded by 39 unsuccessful formulas, and Edison took a few thousand tries to get the light bulb right...

Pretty damned cool, but summary is misleading (1, Insightful)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235070)

engineering life forms with genetic code not possible within nature
This is NOT about creating new forms of life, which would require knowledge of the genomic consequences of this kind of alteration. This process is dimly understood even with natural base pairs, so the notion that protein encoding using artificial base pairs could control protein synthesis practically is really jumping the gun here. Sure, maybe in decades/centuries, but not in the foreseeable future.

In the near future, Romesberg expects the new base pairs will be used to synthesize DNA with novel and unnatural properties. These might include highly specific primers for DNA amplification; tags for materials, such as explosives, that could be detected without risk of contamination from natural DNA; and building novel DNA-based nanomaterials.
The practical application of this is to expand the possible avenues of manipulating the properties of DNA.

Next, DIAA demands repatriation... (1)

hydrodog (1154181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235088)

So when they patent the molecules, the newly formed DIAA will demand that you give back all those "illegally copied" patented molecules that are in your body, because their bacteria got loose and started generating strange new chemicals all over the landscape, which you illegally ingested.

As the keyword says, what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Next, DIAA demands repatriation... (2, Funny)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235160)

We already have something like this. You know all those uptight restrictions against sex that the religious fundamentalists are always going on about? God put those in the Bible as a sort of DRM to control the copying of His DNA that He owns.

And those letter are... (2, Insightful)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235092)

U and S! Resulting in a viral spread of democracy throughout the world!

Re:And those letter are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235334)


U and S! Resulting in a viral spread of democracy throughout the world!


Comments differentiating democracy from democratic republic go here...

Comments calling the current US government a totalitarian state go here...

Comments missing that this is a joke and arguing with the OP go here...

Ok whatever (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235166)

As I don't even understand WTF they've done, I'm gunna go ahead and suggest that this isn't the technology I've been waiting for.

Problem: it is now possible for people to take the DNA sequence for a nasty virus off the web and send it into a DNA synthesis company, pay the $20,000 and get vials and vials of the virus sent to them in under a month. And next year the price will drop to $10,000.. and the year after it will drop to $5,000.. and the year after it will drop to $2500.. and the year after it will drop to $1250, etc.

One Solution: tag each strand of DNA that is synthesized with an "batch number" by incorporating a pattern of artificial bases that will be replicated each time the DNA sequence is replicated. So if someone gets a nasty virus synthesized and puts it in the subway or something then you can read the batch number and trace who bought the DNA.

Previously covered... (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235182)

Wasn't this in a Discover magazine article a decade ago? I think they also had the chemical layout printed there too for the two matching bases.

Proteins that no one has ever seen before (-1, Flamebait)

FreakerSFX (256894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235222)

Does this really sound like a good idea?

What do we really understand about the human body? How much do we understand about infectious diseases, or the effects of environmental pollutants?

Why do we spend money on this when they can't even predict what use it could have? It could create new proteins. What could they do? They could be incredibly toxic. They could be the basis for some form of organic life we have no means to defend ourselves from. They could be a novelty toy in the lab.

As antibiotics lose effectiveness and new viruses mutate in potential pandemics, this seems more like buying a lottery ticket than real science. Only this lottery ticket could get us killed in a number of ways...What level of containment is the lab they're working in? Can they be sure they won't create some self-replicating disease?

In a way the biological sciences are FAR more dangerous than particle or nuclear physics - there are little in the way of controls for these people and their equipment costs a lot less.

People cite science fiction disparagingly all the time - "Oh sure, some sort of plague will occur just like the book by so-and-so."

It should be remembered that science fiction authors are like philosophers of old - they get paid to dream and speculate about the future - some are better than others - and a lot of stories are based on themes that have already occurred in some form or another.

If you want to create some novel form of protein or replicating molecule - do it in level 4 containment, k?

Re:Proteins that no one has ever seen before (2, Insightful)

xanthines-R-yummy (635710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235456)

DNA is NOT protein! So we have an additional two letters to the genomic alphabet. BFD! The most likely scenario is that DNA would either be non-sensical or just be alternate codings for amino acids. You would need to engineer some "regular" DNA to code for proteins that can handle exotic amino acids (ie proteins to get them inside cells, tag them for use, and proteins that have recognition sites for these things). Then you'll have a protein no one has seen before. Of course, regular genetic engineering already has the capability to make weird proteins no one has seen before.

DNA researchers get to "Second Base" pair (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235236)

...sounds like they're making some kind of social progress.

Practical applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235268)

Wake me up when they invent me a bonsai elephant.

Since it hasn't been posted yet........ (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235282)

"There what you call a survivor?" "A few cells are still alive, it's more than I need." "Could you at least idenfity it?" "We tried. But the computer went off the charts. You see, normal human beings have 40 DNA memo groups, which is more than enough for any species to perpetuate itself. This has 200,000... The cell is for the lack of a better word... perfect." "This is a normal human DNA chain. Ok? You, me, anybody, right? Watch this... The compositional elements of this DNA chain are the same as ours. There's simply more of them, tightly packed with infinite genetic knowledge. Almost like this being was engineered."

Do you want an extra head with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22235442)

So, not only will future parents be asked if they want a boy or a girl, but also if they want to "upgrade" to an extra head or just infra-red sight? Great.

In regards to "been done before" (2, Informative)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235460)

These two "new bases" are basically nucleoside analogues...which have existed for years. Usually they are used in anti-viral applications. What happens, is that they are similar enough to existing bases to be incorporated into a growing DNA strand, but are different enough to be unreadable. This works to put a monkey wrench in the viral machinery. The article is very vague, but what Im taking from it is that these two new bases are readable, and that with a proper supply, DNA containing these bases can be properly replicated. What I'm interested in knowing, is how the new codons containing these bases will be interpreted.

Article is a bit disappointing... (2, Funny)

EvilGrin5000 (951851) | more than 6 years ago | (#22235508)

Basically the summary of the article can be boiled down to:

Scientists: "Yay! We finally crammed a new pair of DNA molecules!"
Journalist: "What do they do?"
Scientists: "We don't know, but we're gonna study it! It was really hard to cram that thing in there, it's like hammering a piece of a jigsaw puzzle where it didn't belong. Now we're going to study how it will react and how the surroundings react to it."
Journalist: "So what will this do for the future?"
Scientists: "More generally, Romesberg notes that DNA and RNA are now being used for hundreds of purposes: for example, to build complex shapes, build complex nanostructures, silence disease genes, or even perform calculations. A new, unnatural, base pair could multiply and diversify these applications."
Journalist: "Cool"
Scientists: "Word! Oh and we're not sure of the tools we can do with it, I'm sure they'll be cool and awesome when we discover the tools we can make with this. It HAS to be cool, we used genetic engineering!"

And that's that. :)
Now go home and watch Resident Evil. I wonder if someone will start a business and call it "The Umbrella Corporation"
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